Artist: Skinny Puppy
Title: Live - Bootlegged, Broke And In Solvent Seas
Release Date: 15th June 2012
Label: Dependent Records / Metropolis
In 2009/2010, the living legends SKINNY PUPPY embarked on a North American and European tour by the name of 'In Solvent Seas' - a pun on the fact that their European record distributor SPV filed for insolvency and was threatened with being adjudged bankrupt at that time. A difficult situation and one of the reasons why SKINNY PUPPY's last studio album, 'HanDover', was released with quite some delay in October 2011.
So what can musicians do when their record label, which is in a way their employer, is unable to pay? Perform live for a living! That's what sound wizard Cevin Key, vocalist Nivek Ogre and their live drummer Justin Bennett did. And they did not simply play a few shows for good money, SKINNY PUPPY put on an incredible show with stunning visuals which was worth every penny and easily best tour of the year. The show followed, as usual for SKINNY PUPPY, some sort of concept in which singer (and actor!) Nivek Ogre regressed from a fully masked old man with a wheeled walker to the young, agile and unmasked Ogre. A truly breathtaking show, and in a similar vein the songs picked for the setlist went from old, classic SKINNY PUPPY like 'Love In Vain' to newer material like 'UgLi'. By the way, these two songs didn't make it onto 'Bootlegged, Broke And In Solvent Seas', the live album recorded on the said tour which was released this week.
This leads to the first point of critique: Unfortunately 'Bootlegged, Broke And In Solvent Seas' does not feature a full show of the tour but rather a few selected tracks recorded in Warsaw and Bratislava and at the M'era Luna festival in Hildesheim, Germany. The running order of the album is also different to the actual live setlist and starts, after a prelude, with 'Rodent'. It may be a bit of a surprise to some people that a three-minute instrumental prelude is featured on this live album when the band wants to (has to?) limit the release to one disc only. But with a total playing time of 57 minutes there would have been space enough to feature a few more songs from the 'In Solvent Seas' tour - it is striking that songs from the last two albums, which were released via SPV, are missing on 'Bootlegged, Broke And In Solvent Seas'. The reason why might suggest itself.
For this live album, SKINNY PUPPY decided to use unedited soundboard recordings with no further treatment and post-production, unlike so many other live albums. The result sounds as raw and energetic as you would expect from a SKINNY PUPPY live performance, although the sound seems to be a bit muffled here and there. And during 'Dead Lines' appears to be a slight bass feedback, some kind of dark humming noise. It's an unexpected move for perfectionists like SKINNY PUPPY to release such raw and somehow imperfect material but on the other hand 'Bootlegged, Broke And In Solvent Seas' perfectly reproduces the maniacal, frantic and vibrant feel of the SKINNY PUPPY live experience. At the end of the day it's a quite authentic and pristine live recording which makes you feel like being there again. On that score it was a wise decision to use unprocessed and unaltered material.
The album features some songs most fans had no hope to hear live again, like the album tracks 'Shore Lined Poison' and 'Morpheus Laughing' from 1990s 'Too Dark Park' or 'Assimilate', perhaps SKINNY PUPPY's biggest club anthem throughout the 1980s and 1990s and for some strange reason not being performed live for more than 15 years before the 'In Solvent Seas' tour. Of course 'Worlock', another big hit for the band and to me personally one of the most epic songs ever written, simply has to be featured on such a release. Another highlight is 'Addiction', yet again a song many fans did not dare to hope for to hear it live again. The live version of 'Addiction' is based on the 'Doghouse' remix of the track and an incredible intense and, excuse the pun, intoxicating sonic trip.
It is great to have a new release from the SKINNY PUPPY camp just a few months after the last studio album, 'HanDover'. For fans is 'Bootlegged, Broke And In Solvent Seas' of course an absolute must-have, SKINNY PUPPY newbies should perhaps start rather with some of the studio albums (or the compilation 'The Singles Collect') but on the other hand you get great value anyway with this release. There are good reasons why SKINNY PUPPY are seen as living legends and why many fellow musicians, including NINE INCH NAILS' Trent Reznor, praise them and cite them as an influence. In the end there's only one true downside to 'Bootlegged, Broke And In Solvent Seas': This CD makes you want to have a DVD from this tour all the more! After all, SKINNY PUPPY live works best when you can also enjoy the visual side of this mind-blowing live band.
01. Prelude (Warsaw)
02. Rodent (Warsaw)
03. Dead Lines (Bratislava)
04. Dogshit (Warsaw)
05. Addiction (Bratislava)
06. HateKill (Warsaw)
07. Worlock (Hildesheim)
08. Morpheus Laughing (Warsaw)
09. Assimilate (Warsaw)
10. Shore Lined Poison (Budapest)
Nivek Ogre (vocals)
Cevin Key (synths, keyboards, effects)
Justin Bennett (drums)
Total: 8.5 / 10